Vitamin what? K?
Why’d they skip vitamins F, G, H, I & J?
That's because the "K" stands for "koagulation" which is the Danish spelling for "coagulation." Vitamin K is the vitamin that helps the blood to clot or coagulate. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of what this amazing, underappreciated vitamin does for our bodies.
It’s one of the four fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E & K.
Let me tell you about all those functions this little powerhouse does for us. Then I’ll list out some vitamin-K rich foods.
Once you read this post, you can consider yourself officially in the know about this little-known vitamin.
Vitamin K’s amazing functions
As I mentioned earlier, the “K” stands for the vitamin’s ability to help clot our blood. And this is a critical life-saving measure to prevent blood loss from cuts and scrapes.
Vitamin K also works hand-in-hand with calcium in the blood. It helps to shuttle the calcium to our bones and teeth where we need it. This reduces our risk of fractures and cavities. Having too much calcium in our blood can lead to kidney stones and hardened arteries (atherosclerosis), so vitamin K helps to reduce our risks of those too.
It also helps with insulin. Not only is vitamin K critical for making insulin, but also to keep your cells sensitive to it. This means that vitamin K can help you better regulate your blood sugar levels.
Vitamin K has a few other functions too. It can help to regulate your sex hormones. In men, it helps to maintain good levels of testosterone. In women with PCOS, it helps to reduce certain hormones.
Finally, vitamin K can help protect against cancer by switching off cancer genes.
It’s a pretty amazing and versatile vitamin.
What to eat to get vitamin K
There are two main types of vitamin K: K1 and K2.
The type depends on which foods you eat. Vitamin K1 is found in plants; while vitamin K2 is found in animal foods and fermented plants.
Vitamin K1 supports blood clotting (remember "koagulation?"). Vitamin K1 is found mostly in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts), dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, collard greens, parsley, and Swiss chard), as well as asparagus.
Vitamin K2 also supports blood clotting and had additional health benefits. Bone mineralization and effects on cancer genes and sex hormones are primarily from the K2 version. Vitamin K2 is found in egg yolk, cheese, butter, meat, and fermented foods like sauerkraut. Two of the best sources of vitamin K2 are natto (fermented soy) and goose liver.
Since vitamin K is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, it’s best to eat it with a bit of fat. This helps to increase absorption from the food into your body.
If you do want to supplement, make sure you follow the label directions. Some of the cautions include the fact that Vitamin K can interact with several types of medications, so make sure it’s right for you before taking it.
Vitamins K1 and K2 are essential fat-soluble vitamins. They help our blood to clot, our bones to get strong, and regulate our sex hormones, just to name a few.
Vitamin K1 is found in green veggies, like cruciferous and leaves. K2 is found in egg yolks, meat, cheeses, and fermented foods.
I hope you now feel like you're in the know about this amazing (but not-so-well-known) vitamin. Did you learn something new? Did you want to add something I missed?
Let me know in the comments below.
Recipe (Vitamin K2-rich): Natto
2 cups dried soybeans, rinsed (choose organic)
6 cups water
1 package natto starter culture (or leftover natto from the last batch)
Soak soybeans overnight in 6 cups of water.
Drain soaking water. Place beans in fresh water to boil until soft (up to 9 hours).
NOTE: Because we’re going to be fermenting, the recipe from here on needs to use only sterilized equipment and pre-boiled water.
Drain soft soybeans and place in a pot with natto starter culture (per directions on the culture package). Gently stir.
Place beans/culture mixture in a thin layer in as many casserole dishes or baking trays as necessary.
Cover each with sterilized cheesecloth and place the lid on top.
Place covered dishes in oven or dehydrator set for 100F for about 24 hours. The culture should eventually grow to look like a white film around the soybeans.
Let cool. Remove cheesecloth and refrigerate (or freeze).
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: If you save some of the natto, you can use it as your starter culture for future batches.
Do you ever have those days where you can't seem to think straight? It can feel like your brain is actually foggy, and you can't possibly see through the fog to get to your thoughts. Fatigue often accompanies brain fog -- feeling easily irritated, forgetting things or having trouble learning new things, feeling unmotivated, anxious, lacking concentration and even insomnia. The stress of life can cause brain fog to take root, but the good news is you can do a lot to clear the fog in your head.
Here are a few simple tweaks you can start implementing now:
Change your diet. One of the best ways to clear away brain fog is to change what you eat. If you are eating processed and artificial foods, it’s time to cut those out of your life, as they can cause a host of problems including brain fog. Beware of cutting carbs -- your brain needs them to feel more centered. Swap out unhealthy carbs for complex carbs made with whole grains. Start adding in more fresh fruits and vegetables. Doing these things will help reduce the inflammation that can set off brain fog.
Go to sleep. Your body needs sleep, and if you’re not getting enough of it, brain fog will prevail. Start going to bed a little earlier each night and having a routine of unwinding at bedtime to help prepare yourself for better sleep. The more sleep you get, the better your health will be overall and the clearer your brain will feel.
Get more exercise. Because exercise helps get the blood flowing through your body, transporting more oxygen with it, it’s a great way to clear brain fog. Plus, you’ll feel better too. Try a brisk walk, an outdoor run, yoga, or a HIIT at-home workout and feel the positivity of change all over.
Find healthy ways to manage stress. Take a moment for yourself. Ignore your phone and find a way to unwind that makes you feel positively fulfilled. If you don’t, you can allow anxiety and fatigue to fester which can cause your cortisol levels skyrocket. An overabundance of cortisol can prompt you to gain weight and have trouble sleeping, inducing the brain fog and feeling unwell.
Cleanse. Heavy metals and toxins are in our air, water, and even in our food. When we ingest them, it causes inflammation in our gut and takes a toll on our body. Unfortunately, we cannot avoid them altogether, so we must be mindful of cleansing as often as possible. As a simple daily task, try flushing out toxins with more water which will help move toxins out of the body and leave it refreshed.
You don’t have to suffer from brain fog anymore. Take these steps for your health, and you’ll find you’ll see everything more clearly.
Fighting the Negative Thoughts
If you tend to think of negative things, often due to depression or other issues in one's life, it is important to try to turn that around. The only way you can truly have a happy life is if you take control of your thought process. Don’t tell yourself that you have no control over your own thoughts; you do. There are several steps you can take to make it easier to get rid of negative thoughts.
1. Exercise - Moving around each and every day, whether it’s a quick walk, a swim, or going to the gym, is really good for getting the positive endorphins flowing into your blood stream. If you start each day with just a ten-minute, brisk walk, you will be surprised at what a difference it can make in your life. Shoot for thirty minutes of activity each day for the best results.
2. Meditate – Sitting quietly and breathing deeply while thinking about nothing at all can be amazingly uplifting. Sit in a comfortable position that enables you to breathe well and clear your mind. Try to focus on having zero thoughts. This can be very difficult and will take practice. Aim for 10 minutes a day starting with just one minute.
3. Smile – It might seem silly but something as simple as being aware of your facial expression can help you feel more positive. It’s really hard to think of negative things if you are forcing a happy smile on your face. If it helps, put a mirror near your desk at work to remind you to smile at yourself.
4. Listen to Positive Music – Hardly anything is better at lifting the spirits than music. It’s one reason music is so popular and has been for centuries. Find music that you can go to right away when negative thoughts become overwhelming. When you listen, if you can then sing along with the song and really feel the music.
5. Keep a Happiness Journal – When we are prone to thinking negatively it can become more and more difficult to see the goodness around us. Start and end your day with your happiness journal. Write five things in it each night before bed that was good that happened or that you noticed today. Each morning re-read what you wrote the night before.
6. Find Positive Friends – The saying that misery loves company is accurate. Look around you and determine whether you have some positive friends. If you don’t, it’s time to cultivate some. Join a book club or other group to help you find positive people.
7. Flip Negative Thoughts to Positive Thoughts – When you notice you’re thinking of something negative, try turning the thought on its ear to become the opposite of the negative thought. First, stop thinking in absolute terms. Nothing is “always” or “never” and there is usually a middle ground.
8. Take Responsibility for Your Life - If you tend to blame others for your failures or problems, try to realize that you have a lot more control than you think you do. In fact, it’s the idea of lack of control over one’s life that breeds discontent and negative thoughts. When you realize you are in control, you can turn it around.
9. Get Out of Your Own Life for a Day – Helping others can do wonders for your mindset and self-image. If you think other people get tired of hearing you complain, you probably are the one most sick of it since you “hear” yourself more than others. Take the focus away from yourself and put it on someone else for a day.
10. Realize that Perfection is Overrated – No one is perfect, and you know that. You likely do not expect perfection from others, so why expect it from yourself. Be at least half as patient with yourself as you are of others. Striving for excellence is understandable but setting the bar too high will only lead to disappointment.
11. Watch Positive Movies – Find a go-to movie that you can watch that makes you feel hopeful and wonderfully positive. Even if it is just a silly movie that makes you laugh, laughter is excellent for breeding positive thoughts and feelings.
12. Read Positive Quotes – Collect positive quotes that you can read anytime negative thoughts come to mind. If you memorize the positive quotes, so much the better. Then, you can call them to you when you’re waiting in line at the bank and the negative thoughts overcome you.
13. Eat Right - It is amazing how much eating can play into negative thoughts and emotions. If you eat a lot of processed food, sugar and junk, try to eliminate those foods from your diet for at least 80 percent of the time. Add in more whole foods, fruits and vegetables to fill you up and keep you nourished.
14. Get Sunshine – Many people around the world suffer from something called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD. This is feeling sad and even depressed for “no reason” during dark times or wintertime. Some people who don’t get enough sunshine even feel this way in the summertime. Ensure that you get at least 30 minutes of sunshine each day. This will not only help keep you more positive but will also ensure that you get enough vitamin D.
Following these tips will help you fight the negative thoughts that come to your mind any time of day or night. But remember that practice makes perfect. If you have a bad day, remember that tomorrow is a brand-new day, and a brand-new chance to get it right.